Further review of the Democratic losses last week along with recent polls showing Republicans beating Democrats in the generic congressional ballot demonstrates the impact of only ten months of Democratic governance on Independents. In Virginia, New Jersey, and now nationally, we’re seeing the exact same dynamic: Republicans are supporting Republicans, Democrats are voting Democrat, and Independents, after having installed a Democratic government just one year ago, are moving heavily towards the GOP. Note that this coalition — let’s call it the McDonnell/Christie Coalition — is quite distinct from the last Republican majoritarian coalition that brought the GOP to power in 2004. In ’04, the GOP won because voters on either side of the political fifty yard line ran to their respective end zones, and the voters on the Right were just a tad more fired up than voters on the Left. This year, the American middle is still in the middle, but centrists and Independents are voting Republican by a lopsided margin, just as they voted Democrat by a significant margin in 2008.
The movement towards Republicans on the part of swing voters shouldn’t be surprising, as pretty much the entire Democratic agenda thus far has amounted to a (largely failed) attempt to enact a huge burden on the very middle class, middle of the road, Middle American voters who brought Democrats to power in the first place. By ignoring the unintended consequences of their policies and by misreading their mandate, Obama and congressional Democrats are on the verge of losing the republic that Americans handed them just one year ago.
Last year, I wrote extensively about the plight of the average middle class American, and of the manner in which regular Americans are beginning to feel that the American Dream is being extinguished. Once upon a time, working hard and playing by the rules was all that was necessary to achieve a comfortable and rewarding life in a nation which values opportunity and meritocracy, and which promises equality under the law for all, regardless of national origin, religion, and so forth. But as the cost of housing, education, and health care rose, and as wages, benefits, and job growth shrank, and as the growth of government at home and its actions abroad sent the American people a bill which could only be paid for via fiscal collapse or massive future tax increases, Americans began to wonder whether the nation’s best days were behind her and whether the American Dream was, in fact, dead. Democrats ran as champions of the middle class and unsurprisingly won massive majorities.
But less than year into their reign, the heroes of the middle class have been revealed as enemies of the middle class, as Democrats have spent 2009 pursuing policies that essentially constitute what is probably the largest middle class tax increase in American history. They are, in no particular order:
The Stimulus: The president and congressional Democrats promised that adding a trillion dollars to the national debt was necessary to stimulate the economy and prevent a depression. Instead, unemployment has continued to increase, and most of the stimulus has yet to even be enacted, as the package was largely a Trojan Horse filled with funding for every Democratic domestic program under the sun. Because the national debt will eventually have to be paid off, this means that the president and Congress gave American taxpayers a trillion dollar bill during the worst recession since the Great Depression, one that will ultimately lead to a massive tax increase on the middle class, and one that did nothing to actually restore the economy and create jobs.
The Bailouts: The Obama Administration and congressional Democrats seemed to have no qualms about using the tax dollars of the American people to bail out the nation’s robber barons who had reached the precipice due to practices such as imprudent and predatory lending and slapping interest rates on lines of credit that would once have been considered usury. The average American, who most certainly did not find himself bailed out of his mortgage or his car payments or his student loans, could do nothing but sit back and watch as his tax dollars were used to bail out the very folks who were simultaneously raising his interest rates on all of those things. Instead of letting poor business decisions be punished by the marketplace, which would disincentivize similar practices in the future, the Obama Administration ensured that no lessons were learned, no robber baron or archaic motor company was allowed to fail, and no American taxpayer would be able to avoid the bill.
Cap and Trade: The Administration itself has privately concluded that this legislation would essentially amount to a 15 percent tax increase. What could go wrong?
Health Care: While small-bore reforms are definitely needed to lower the cost of health care and help more Americans get insured, the health care reforms proposed by Democrats all have one thing in common, and that’s an increased financial burden on the middle class. Even without the creation of a new middle class entitlement in the public option, guaranteed issue, which is a feature of all the Democratic plans, has increased health insurance premiums in every state in which it’s been implemented. This means that the average middle class American will see his or her health insurance premiums go up if ObamaCare becomes law. Under ObamaCare, subsidies are phased out well before they impact most middle class Americans. The poor will have government assistance to help them pay their premiums, and the jet set can simply take more money out of their trust funds. But the middle class will bear the brunt of ObamaCare, being handed higher premiums with few new benefits in return.
Afghanistan: With the nation nearing fiscal collapse, the last thing that Americans want to do is continue to pour blood and treasure into a tribal nation stuck in the 10th Century due to the notion that it’s somehow our moral imperative to do so, or that the sword can be used to modernize such a society. Neither is true. If it’s our job to save the world, then why not all of Sub-Saharan Africa? Why are we not attempting to send troops to every banana republic in Latin America? We don’t because we can’t. In the real world, resources are finite. Americans realize that it’s time to conserve ours, which is why large majorities of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan and oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan. Every penny that is added to the national debt because of Afghanistan will come directly out of the pockets of the middle class in the form of some future tax increase.
In sum, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress are running up a massive bill and sending it to the same middle class that elected Democrats to save it from its economic woes. Apparently, Democrats thought that the middle class was electing them out of some masochistic desire to be further squeezed in order to solve all of the world’s problems, from global warming to the societal travails of distant lands. Democrats are about to find out what Republicans found out last year: at the ballot box, there’s nothing more powerful than an army of disgruntled white collar professionals who make $50,000 a year. In the Nixon era, these folks were called Cloth Coat Republicans. Now they’re Cloth Coat Independents. And they’re the most potent political force in America today.